Upper Egypt governorates witnessed a 27% increase in government investments between fiscal years (FY) 2018/19-2020/21, to reach about EGP 104bn, compared to the three preceding years, according to Minister of Planning and Economic Development Hala El-Said.
The minister’s remarks came during her statement on the Ministry of Planning and Economic Development’s performance before the plenary session of the House of Representatives.
El-Said said that her ministry has attached utmost importance to directing the investment plan towards the government’s work priorities. This aims to improve the quality of life for Egyptian citizens, whilst also raising the level of services, by focusing on sectors that stimulate economic growth and which provide decent work opportunities.
The minister also said that public investments increased by 66% in general during FY 2018/19-2020/21 compared to the previous three years, which resulted in the implementation of many development initiatives, notably the presidential initiative “Decent Life”.
She made note of her ministry’s keenness to direct public investments towards developing Egypt’s infrastructure, especially transport, drinking water, sanitation, and electricity sectors. This is due to their essential impact on improving the quality of life of citizens, and attracting more local and foreign private investments.
El-Said said that public investments directed to these sectors during FY 2018/19-2020/21 amounted to about EGP 500bn, accounting for 32% of public investments, and achieving a growth of 20% compared to the three preceding years.
The minister also said that, during FY 2018/19-2020/21, these investments resulted in the completion of 416 projects in the electricity sector at a cost of EGP 95.6bn. It also saw the completion of 689 housing sector projects at a cost of EGP 72.6bn, which resulted in the rate of sanitation coverage reaching 96% in cities and about 37.5% in villages.
In addition to this, 145 transport sector projects were completed at a cost of EGP 33.2bn, and 37 petroleum sector projects were completed at a cost of EGP 431bn, resulting in Egypt achieving self-sufficiency in natural gas.
Further to this, a total of 458 projects were completed in the water resources and irrigation sector at a cost of EGP 5.6bn, in addition to 20 projects in the agricultural sector, for EGP 4.3bn.
El-Said stressed her ministry’s consideration of directing public investments towards sectors that support human development, especially in the health and education sectors. Public investments directed to these sectors during FY 2018/19-2020/21 amounted to about EGP 150bn, achieving a growth of 170% compared to three preceding years.
These investments resulted in, during FY 2018/19 and 2019/20, the implementation of 1,650 projects in the pre-university education sector. This came alongside the creation, development, and expansion of more than 26,500 classrooms at all educational levels, and the provision of education services in many of Egypt’s neediest villages.
It also resulted in the increase in the number of private universities to 15, and the establishing of nine new technological universities whose outputs are linked to the labour market, to reach a coverage rate of up to 33% across Egypt.
These investments also led to the establishment and development of 120 hospitals and health units, which saw paediatric beds available at hospitals increase by 87%. This also ensured that the number of intensive care unit (ITU) beds increased by 77%.
“Recent years have witnessed an increase in the per capita share of public investment by about 265% compared to FY 2014/15, and the period from FY 2017/18 to 2020/21 witnessed a remarkable development in the per capita share of local administration investments, with an increase of 195%,” El-Said said.
The minister added that a growth rate of 5.6% was achieved in the first half (H1) of FY 2019/20, before the full repercussions of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic were felt.
“Despite the crisis, the Egyptian economy achieved a growth rate of 3.6% during FY 2019/20, as Egypt was one of a limited number of countries that achieved positive growth in light of the pandemic, and it was projected to achieve a growth rate of 5.8% in FY 2019/20 and 6% in FY 2020/21,” she noted.
The minister also pointed out that Egypt’s unemployment rate decreased to 7.3% in the first quarter (Q1) of FY 2020/21, compared to 9.6% in Q4 of FY 2019/20, whilst the annual unemployment rate decreased from 13% in 2014 to 7.9% in 2019.
El-Said highlighted that the inflation rate also decreased to 5.7% in FY 2019/20, its lowest level in 14 years, after it recorded 13.9% in FY 2018/19, and about 33% in FY 2017/18.
“This is one of the fruits of the serious reform steps taken by the Egyptian state,” El-Said said, “Since November 2016, this has strengthened the Egyptian economy and its ability to face crises.”
During her statement to the House of Representatives, El-Said confirmed the decrease in Egypt’s poverty rate to 29.7%, for the first time since 1999, compared to 32.5% in FY 2017/18, as the poverty rate decreased across the country.
El-Said concluded by saying that the decline was greater in rural areas of Lower Egypt, reflecting a decrease of 4.73%, followed by the rural areas of Upper Egypt at 3.79%.